This is no way for Namibia police to treat innocent guests

Saturday April 21 2012

On a recent overland trip from Uganda through Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia, my partner and I were stopped at a roadblock for a minor traffic offence at Okongwati in Northern Namibia.

The police with no justification, physically assaulted me, forcing my partner to insist on taking me to a clinic some 40km away, where I remained unconscious for between two and three hours.

We were detained for more than six hours, were denied any consular access, access to legal people or family, and denied any identification of the people who carried out the violence against me.

The offence was that we were not wearing seatbelts, despite our explanation that after travelling on a particularly difficult and dangerous road in floods where we had repeatedly had to leave our vehicle to ensure the road was passable, and where it would have been hazardous to have a seatbelt secured.

We were detained at the scene, and tried to explain the situation, but the six officers were aggressive and unhelpful.

We provided details of the car and the driving license but I was reluctant to hand over the passport which we instead clearly showed them the details from the data page for identification purposes.

The officers then became very aggressive and threatened to arrest me.

I insisted that we had done nothing wrong and questioned why they needed to retain my passport.

In no way was I abusive but insistent over my rights. They then physically tried to place handcuffs on me for no reason or justification, which I understandably resisted.

I was then attacked by four officers whilst my partner who also had done nothing, was handcuffed.

One placed both his hands around my throat, two threw me to the ground and hit me, I was thrown into the back of a van where again I was hit whilst still in handcuffs.

According to my partner who inspected me a short time after, he noticed I was unconscious and insisted on me being taken to hospital.

I was unconscious for more than two hours where according to him my treatment was poor and ineffective.

We were then threatened with arrest, though it was never made entirely clear whether this was the case, and on what grounds we were being arrested, there was continual collusion between officers as to their statements, statements by officers were clearly fabricated and then agreed between them, we were denied any contact with our embassy, family, nor made aware of any of our rights.

We were repeatedly denied any way of identifying the officers concerned, my partners camera was confiscated and pictures showing me unconscious were removed very aggressively.

In addition to being unconscious, I had abrasions to my back and shoulder, swelling to my face and neck, an arm which continues to cause me pain.

According to my partner no officer could deal with the condition they had created and it was left to my partner to take me to hospital.

After almost seven hours we were unreasonably forced to sign a statement and were released at one o’clock in the morning in an area where it would be hazardous to travel at night.

Throughout, their actions were unjustified and excessive and entirely unprofessional.

We have reported this matter to the foreign office in Kampala as well as the Uganda embassy in South Africa to protest at the way we were treated.

Jowelia Nnantongo
Via E-mail

Election Bill finally gets it right on rules

The Bill by Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has gotten it right on tightening the rules on elections.

The Bill which also advocates an ethics and integrity test on all leaders who want to vie for any post will help in fighting election vices, misuse of office and inefficiency by most leaders.

It is also a good move to stop night meetings and confine campaign time between 6am and 6pm as per the rules. This will help in curbing crime during the campaign period.

The IEBC commission needs to put in place very strict rules on violation of the above so as to discourage aspirants from ignoring them. This might include disqualification of a candidate from the elections.

The passing of the Bill will help greatly reduce the chances of what happened during campaign period, election time and even after the election.

The commission has also put good effort in educating Kenyans on the elections and even carried out mock elections so as to draw better conclusions on where and what need to be improved.

Of course there are still many areas that need to be addressed, such as the threat of the Mombasa Republican Council, among others.

Kenneth Irungu
Maseno